Take a good look at this pie. This is what procrastination looks like. My friend Susan Messer and I planned to bake our annual pie in honor of the muse back in July. Wasting no time, Susan produced her usual superb pie and an equally superb blog post about the process. I promised to do the same, and of course, I meant it! I even planned to do it right this time--just like Susan does--with organic locally grown blueberries and a buttery home made crust. This particular promise/delusion and its inevitable failure has been repeated so many times that it's become part of the tradition.
It was mid-August before I found myself staring guiltily at the chemically laced blueberries at Stop and Shop, and I didn't actually bake the pie until a week later, when around 1 a.m., I looked at the slightly shriveled berries and realized it was now or never. Now, sigh, it's September--okay, late September, and I'm completing the process. (A photograph of the pie posted on Facebook, however, did bring Diana Guerrero and her amazing writing group, and Karen DeGroot Carter on board.)
(The judges decided it was still good.)
So yes, I admit it. My name is Patry and I am a procrastinator. Big time. In my defense, let me say two things:
1. I was born this way.
2. I'm beginning to think it works for me. See, while I'm putting off what I should do, I'm sometimes dreaming, percolating, or just allowing the muse to do her mysterious subconscious work.
Or maybe that's just an excuse. I don't know. These days most writers tend to name their muse Hard Work. The airy fairy in her gossamer gown who provides inspiration when she will has been kicked to the curb and replaced by the goddess of self-discipline by most productive writers. I admire them more than I can say. But as hard as I try, I'm not one of them.
Sure, I can put on my work boots, pack my lunch and write every day. Same place. Same time. I can set page quotas, word quotas and time quotas, and yeah, I can produce. But if the airy fairy hasn't spoken, if the story isn't ready to tell itself through me, or whatever the process is, then one morning, I wake up and realize, I've run a hundred mile marathon--in the wrong direction. Sometimes that's good. It gives you something to work with, as the conventional wisdom goes. But other times, it's just a long way back, there's a whole lot of mud on my shoes, and I'm exhausted.
Meanwhile, as I've put off making pies and writing about them and countless other things, a group of characters have been whispering to me, and then speaking loudly and finally shouting: This way! This way! Sometimes I think they are the muse, these mysterious "people" who appear from nowhere and demand to be heard, demand to be felt. Other times, it seems that time itself is the muse, and that the procrastination and endless daydreaming I've been fighting all my life just might serve a productive purpose.
So yes, I believe that hard work may be the muse's best friend, but at least for me, it's not the thing itself. For that reason, I will continue to bake my imperfect, belated pies, and sing the praises of capricious fairies everywhere.